Looking Forward to a Wonderful International Space Development Conference

Letter from the NSS President
By Alice M Hoffman, PE

I hope you’ll be able to join me May 24-27 to experience what promises to be, through months of work by dozens of dedicated NSS volunteers, one of the best ISDCs of all time!

Thomas Mueller of SpaceX “blasts off” the conference at Thursday morning’s plenary. As the Propulsion Chief Technology Officer at SpaceX, I’m hoping he’ll share some secrets about how they make those fabulous televised landings of first stage rockets come true!

Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon, as well as the Founder of aerospace company Blue Origin, will  join us on Friday for the evening reception and dinner.

These receptions are great chances for networking, and this year we’ll have some unique items up for silent auction each evening, so leave a bit of room in your suitcase to take home a treasure.

At Saturday’s lunch, hear Dr. Frank Drake (the brilliant theoretician behind the famous Drake Equation) talk about his vision of the future of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). At dinner, the venerable Freeman J. Dyson, Professor Emeritus in Mathematical Physics and Astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Study, will deliver a talk entitled “Noah’s Ark Eggs.” I’m intrigued!

Our Sheraton Gateway Hotel not only runs free shuttles to the nearby LAX airport, but also to the beach, so bring the whole family to soak up some Southern California sunshine. ISDC offers a full program of fun and interesting educational opportunities for students, with many available tours including safe skydiving at iFly’s wind tunnel followed by design sessions to apply these principals to land your spacecraft on Mars (OK, adults are welcome to fly, too!).

You’ll be able to hear and interact with 160 great speakers in 4 days of talks on 17 space topics. Even our MCs will be fabulous, including NSS Governors and TV personalities Janet Ivey and Geoff Notkin. The conference theme is “Putting People into Space,” so if you want to go to space, too, be sure to register now!

National Space Society Honors JPL’s Voyager Team: “Humans have never before reached so far”

For 40 years, two small spacecraft launched in 1977 have sped past the planets in our solar system and beyond, carrying humanity’s messages etched on gold disks. Their journey into the depths of interstellar space will continue indefinitely.

To honor this unprecedented achievement, the National Space Society (NSS) has announced that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team that designed, built and operated the Voyager spacecraft has been named the 2018 recipient of NSS’ Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering.

 

NSS Senior Operating Officer Bruce Pittman said, “The two Voyager spacecraft, launched over 40 years ago, sent back amazing pictures of the outer solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the Saturnian moon Titan, bringing the majestic beauty of the outer solar system to people around the world.” Pittman continued, “The fact that the Voyager spacecraft are still operational and sending back useful data is a great testament to the talent of the hundreds of scientists and engineers who worked so hard to make this incredible mission possible.” This National Space Society award recognizes the JPL team for their amazing scientific and engineering achievements.

The prestigious award will be presented to Dr. Michael Watkins, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at the Society’s 37th annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC®), to be held at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel from May 24-27, 2018. NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from Dr. Watkins and attend his award ceremony.

For more information, see: isdc2018.nss.org

Past recipients of the Space Pioneer Award include: Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

The National Space Society was formed by a merger of the National Space Institute, founded in 1974 by NASA’s Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, and the L5 Society, founded in 1975, inspired by the pioneering work of Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill.

The National Space Society Honors Jeff Bezos with the Gerard K. O’Neill Memorial Award

The National Space Society has named Jeff Bezos its 2018 recipient of the prestigious Gerard K. O’Neill Memorial Award for Space Settlement Advocacy to be awarded at the Society’s yearly conference in May 2018.

“Jeff Bezos has articulated exactly what our thousands of supporters work toward at the National Space Society,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “Few have done so much to advance space development and this award recognizes Bezos’ extraordinary advocacy and record of accomplishment.”

Bezos is the Founder and CEO of Amazon, as well as the Founder of aerospace company Blue Origin. Blue Origin is focused on building reusable launch systems to lower the cost of access to space. New Shepard, named after Alan Shepard, will take astronauts to the edge of space on a thrilling 11-minute flight. New Glenn, named after John Glenn, will be capable of taking people and large payloads to earth orbit and beyond. Blue Origin is also developing liquid rocket engines.

Bruce Pittman, NSS Chief Operating Officer, said, “As the founder of space development company Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos has both advanced and accelerated our progress and has been a tireless advocate for new and innovative approaches. As such, he personifies the very best in the field of space development and joins a distinguished list of previous recipients.”

The award will be presented to Jeff Bezos on Friday, May 25 at the NSS’s 37th annual International Space Development Conference® (ISDC®) in Los Angeles. The conference runs from May 24-27 and features leaders from space science, engineering, advocacy and government fields who are developing new ways to develop, live and prosper in space and on other worlds.

The Gerard K. O’Neill Memorial Award is given at infrequent intervals to exceptional individuals, and has in the past recognized such leaders in space exploration and development as physicist Freeman Dyson and Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt. The granting of the award to Jeff Bezos continues this tradition of recognizing exemplary achievement.

For more information, see: isdc2018.nss.org.

The National Space Society was formed by a merger of the National Space Institute, founded in 1974 by NASA’s Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket, and the L5 Society, founded in 1975, inspired by the pioneering work of Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill.

National Space Society to Present Space Pioneer Award to SETI Astronomer Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award honors the work he has done as a professional astronomer, especially as a radio astronomer, technical advisor for the Golden Record on the Voyager mission, and as a leader in the science-based Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) community.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Dr. Drake at our annual conference, the 37th International Space Development Conference (ISDC®) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Dr. Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake has a huge array of accomplishments, which includes his work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, JPL, Cornell University, the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (Arecibo), the National Research Council, the University of California at Santa Cruz and other institutions. He was among a group that pushed for the conversion of Arecibo into one of the world’s top and most unique radio astronomy facilities, and served as its director from 1966-1968.

He is a leader in the SETI field, which has now existed for over 55 years and with the SETI institute, which has existed for over 30 years. He pioneered the Drake Equation, which provided a rational and quantifiable way of estimating the number of potential civilizations in our galaxy and elsewhere. More of the terms of that equation are now being solidified as the new exoplanet data streams in and the proven number of roughly Earth-sized planets continues to climb.

He did visionary work 40 years ago with the Voyager missions and as Technical Director of the Golden Record containing Earth’s greatest music, spoken greetings, “Sounds of Earth,” and more than 100 images encoded as audio signals. These were technological feats of their time.

This ‘message’ from Earth was designed to be understandable by extraterrestrials should they encounter the spacecraft which have now traveled beyond our Sun’s heliopause into interstellar space. The newer emphasis on using optical frequencies to look for evidence of artificial signals is opening up a whole new area in radio astronomy and SETI.

He was also one of the creators of the Arecibo Message, a binary encoded image 210 bytes long, which was sent to the globular star cluster M13 in November, 1974 by the Arecibo telescope itself. The message included common scientific information, and some information about Earth and the solar system

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

Freeman Dyson, Famed Physicist, Wins the National Space Society’s Prestigious Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award

National Space Society members have voted to give Freeman Dyson the prestigious Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. This award honors the work he has done as a ground-breaking physicist and mathematician, and as a major thought leader in the science and space communities for over half a century.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from our awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present Freeman with the Heinlein Award at their 37th annual International Space Development Conference® (ISDC)® to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Freeman Dyson

The Heinlein award recognizes Dyson’s many years of work, both in science and in the public arena, advancing fundamental physics and math, and promoting and explaining the future role of humans in space which NSS hopes will lead to a free spacefaring civilization. This includes his position for many years as President of the Space Studies Institute, founded by space visionary Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill.

Dyson was a leader of the early space age in the 1950s and 60s through his work with Project Orion, a revolutionary space propulsion concept. His numerous ideas and detailed technical work have contributed enormously to space transport, development and settlement. The vision of self-sustaining human settlements in space and on planetary surfaces as part of a free, spacefaring civilization, is at the very heart of the space movement.

Dyson received a BA in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge after World War II. He had a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton from 1953 to 1994, where he still resides as a professor emeritus. He is best known for his numerous and significant contributions in the fields of physics and mathematics, including support for and practical use of Feynman Diagrams and creating a better understanding of quantum electrodynamics by unifying the three previously existing versions of that theory.

He is also well known for his concept of the so-called “Dyson Sphere” in which an advanced civilization would build many structures around its star to capture most or all of its energy. This concept has been misinterpreted by many to incorrectly imply a solid sphere around a star. He is the author of many popular books on science and ethics including Disturbing the Universe, Imagined Worlds, and The Scientist as Rebel.

His work has helped in understanding the space environment and even the very nature of space-time and matter itself. His life-long rationally-based poking at scientific sacred cows has helped to keep alive the spirit of open discussion within the scientific community. Few have made such rich contributions to these fields.

About the Robert A. Heinlein Award

The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award honors those individuals who have made significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free spacefaring civilization. The Award is named after author Robert A. Heinlein, widely recognized as the dean of science fiction writers, in memory of him and of his many contributions to the pro-space movement. Heinlein served for about a decade as a director of the L5 Society, predecessor of NSS, and attended ISDC in 1983. NSS members vote to choose who will win this prestigious award which is given every two years.

The award consists of a miniature brass naval cannon mounted on a solid mahogany base with a brass plaque and an inlay of Italian black granite. The barrel is inscribed with one of Heinlein’s favorite acronyms “TANSTAAFL” (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). The award concept came from one of Heinlein’s classic novels, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The cannon represents defiance of conventional wisdom when necessary. In modern terms, this means being able to “think outside of the box.” Previous Heinlein Award Winners are Jerry Pournelle, Elon Musk, Dr. Stephen Hawking, Dr. Peter Diamandis, Burt Rutan, General Chuck Yeager, Capt. James Lovell, Robert Zubrin, Neil Armstrong, Carl Sagan, Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Dr. Robert H. Goddard, Gene Roddenberry, Dr. Wernher von Braun, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, and Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill.

NSS Heinlein Award

The Cassini and Huygens Teams Win the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Awards for Science and Engineering

The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini and Huygens Teams are the winners of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Awards for Science and Engineering. Saturn has been revealed to science in great detail at last by the Cassini-Huygens mission. The mission saw the Cassini spacecraft meander through the moons and rings of Saturn for thirteen years, while the Huygens probe made a daring descent through the hazy atmosphere of Titan to soft land on the ice-covered ocean world in January 2005.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the mission teams. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Awards to each team’s representatives at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

Saturn is our solar system’s most iconic-looking planet with its vast system of spectacular rings and numerous unique moons. It was shrouded in mystery throughout our history until it was first unveiled by NASA’s Pioneer and Voyager fly-bys.

As the Cassini-Huygens mission has been carried out by two teams over a very long period of time, NSS is pleased to be able to present awards to representatives of both the Cassini Team and the Huygens Team. This award recognizes the massive amount of work carried out by the two teams to propose, design, launch and operate the Cassini and Huygens missions and to receive and analyze the data over many years.

Cassini-Huygens at Saturn and Titan. Illustration: ESA.

About the Mission

The Cassini-Huygens mission was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana – ASI). NASA developed the Cassini Saturn orbiter, ESA developed the Huygens Titan Probe, and ASI, in addition to its contribution to Huygens through ESA, supplied major components to Cassini, including its high gain antenna and parts of several orbiter instruments.The dual-spacecraft mission was launched on Oct 15, 1997, over 20 years ago, and is regarded as one of the most significant space missions in history.

The Cassini spacecraft, with its array of cameras, spectrometers, and in-situ instruments, returned an enormous amount of data and images from Saturn and its surroundings. It thoroughly mapped many of the moons of Saturn. Most notably, Cassini discovered a plume of water vapor and icy particles venting into space from a subsurface ocean within the moon Enceladus. This finding has helped pivot the search for life beyond Earth toward the underground oceans inside a variety of outer solar system objects. The Huygens probe directly studied the atmosphere of Titan during its descent. Its images revealed a rugged landscape with branching drainage channels and possible dry lake bottoms, along with the first images taken from the surface of a world in the outer solar system on January 14, 2005.

Multiple flybys of Titan by Cassini itself have helped to create a global map of the only other world in our solar system with active (methane) rain storms affecting a solid water ice surface. The Cassini spacecraft’s mission ended with an intentional plunge into Saturn on September 15, 2017, one-month short of its 20th launch anniversary.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

Sean Hargreaves, Star Trek Movie Concept Designer, Wins National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Art

The National Space Society’s Space Pioneer Award for Art will be presented to Star Trek® motion picture concept designer Sean Hargreaves. This award honors the work he has done in the motion picture industry, especially for design work on the huge space city and Star Fleet base “Yorktown” shown in the 2016 movie Star Trek Beyond. NSS has a vision of space and planetary settlement as part of our real future in space and the Yorktown city depicts an orbital space habitat beautifully.

Starbase Yorktown. Credit: Sean Hargreaves

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from our awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Sean at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Sean Hargreaves

Sean received a BA in Science from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1989 and since 1992 has been working on a wide variety of films such as science fiction, horror, action/adventure and thrillers. He has also worked in wide variety of roles, including storyboard artist, matte painter, illustrator, costume design, assistant art director, concept artist, concept design, production design, etc. Some of the films he has worked on like The 5th Element have involved very visually complex scenes with lots of motion and perspective. This work requires a constant balancing act between what can be imagined, what looks realistic, and what is practical to show on the screen.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

National Space Society to Present Space Pioneer Award to NASA Astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan

NASA astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Non-Legislative Government Service. This award honors the work she did as an astronaut and oceanographer. She flew on the space shuttle three times, including the 1990 mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and more recently served as Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Dr. Sullivan at our annual conference, the 2018 International Space Development Conference (the 37th ISDC) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Dr. Sulllivan 

Dr. Sullivan received a Doctorate in Geology from Dalhousie University in 1978. She has participated in oceanographic expeditions in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Her achievements include fifteen years of service as a shuttle astronaut and three very significant flights from 1984 to 1992. On her inaugural mission, she performed the first EVA by an American female astronaut. On the second flight, she delivered the Hubble Space Telescope safely to orbit. On her third mission, she was the payload commander for the very first SpaceLab Mission to Planet Earth. She also served as Director for Ohio State University’s Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy. From 2011 until 2017, she served in a variety of senior positions at NOAA, including Chief Scientist, Deputy Administrator, and Administrator. The space program has always looked both outward and inward, and the work on Earth observation and analysis continues to be a major part of the of both NASA and NOAA programs. She is currently working on a book about the Hubble Space Telescope and the maintenance and repair team that made Hubble servicing possible.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.

National Space Society Conducts Successful Annual Conference in St. Louis

ISDC2017

The International Space Development Conference® (ISDC® 2017) gathered people from all around the world to St. Louis, MO, to connect and share the latest breakthroughs in space development. ISDC 2017 is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come.

ISDC2017With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond. Our message focuses on how we can impact the future with people living and working in thriving communities beyond Earth, and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.

There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many that our members have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among our keynote speakers were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate; Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency; Natalie Batalha, Kepler Mission Scientist; Dr. Linda Godwin, retired NASA Astronaut and University of Missouri-Columbia Physics Professor; and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute.

It is interesting to note that Time magazine named Natlie Batalha, NASA’s Kepler project scientist searching for other worlds, to the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people on Earth.

The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.

Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.

General Stafford Panel Discussion at ISDC 2017
General Stafford Panel Discussion at ISDC 2017

The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty. Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.

ISDC2017.3

One of the most rewarding activities was the networking between adult attendees and the pre-university students participating in the the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. Worldwide student teams came to ISDC 2017 to showcase their concepts for orbital space settlements and they brought visionary ideas on how future populations might live and work in space. Attendees were able to engage with the students at their poster presentations and many were impressed with the students’ understanding of the challenges and the innovative ideas they had in order to conquer space settlement.

ISDC2017

Many of the students also brought models, several made using 3D printing, to highlight their concepts. Teams from China, India, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria and more shared their enthusiasm for space and the enthusiasm was contagious.

We at NSS feel that ISDC 2017 and the passion of our attendees will make a difference to achieving space development and settlement. NSS extends a huge thank you to everyone who helped make ISDC 2017 a success! Everyone had a fabulous time, met new friends, and learned new things.
NSS is pleased to announce that our exciting ISDC programming will not end with the conclusion of ISDC 2017 as the National Space Society is looking forward to the Space Settlement Summit to take place in Los Angeles, October 24-28. At this invitation-only summit, NSS will bring together space leaders to discuss living and working in space in a thriving space economy.

A Stellar ISDC, with Six Silver Stars

By Rod Pyle

The 2017 International Space Development Conference is over, but the effect of the conference will continue for months to come. With over 800 attendees, and an unprecedented number of international and youth participants, our message will have an important and meaningful impact on the space advocacy community and beyond.

There were a number of major figures from the space community present, including many you have come to know well through the pages of Ad Astra and the NSS newsletters. Notable among them were Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration Operations Directorate, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of the European Space Agency, and Andy Aldrin, Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute. The rostrum also hosted two Lieutenant Generals with stellar spaceflight credentials: Tom Stafford, Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and Steven Kwast, Commander and President, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Their messages may have come from a military perspective, but they spoke of a future beneficial to all involved.

Stafford delivered a rousing talk on his perspectives as an astronaut and his take on our future in the final frontier. A veteran of two Gemini flights, he first flew on Gemini 6 with Wally Schirra, and then aboard Gemini 9 with Gene Cernan. He then flew on Apollo 10 with Cernan, experiencing the first lunar emergency when their Lunar Module spun out of control during a low-altitude test flight over the lunar surface:  When he jettisoned the descent stage of the lunar module, the ascent stage went into a spin, coming dangerously close to the surface before he recovered control through his deft piloting skills. His final spaceflight was aboard the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the final flight of the Apollo program, which lasted nine days. Shortly after arriving in orbit, his Apollo Command Module docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, and for 44 hours the two crews shared food and the camaraderie of brothers in space during the height of the cold war.

Stafford was emphatic about what our country can do when challenged. During the space race, Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Saturn V Moon rocket, Apollo Command Module, and Lunar Module were all created from whole cloth in less than six years. These machines, and the people who designed and built them, enabled the greatest journeys of exploration in human history. Stafford advocated strongly for the maintenance of American supremacy in space.

The second blue-suiter, General Steven Kwast, provided similarly inspirational testimony about the imperative for our nation to maintain the high ground—not for war, but to maintain peace. Kwast’s moving speech inspired attendees to look towards maintaining a leadership position in the protection of our precious planet, currently challenged not just politically but environmentally as well. His speech was a voice of restraint and stability in an age of great uncertainty.

Representing the old and new guard of Air Force leadership, both men are emblematic of the continued strong and enlightened command of the United States Air Force and its continuing quest to ensure the peaceful exploration and utilization of space for the betterment of all humanity.